Just as people schedule regular check-ups with their GP, our planet needs regular check-ups to catch issues as early as possible, before they become more serious and harder to heal.
That is the much-needed service provided on a global scale by the Worldwatch Institute in this new book, "Vital Signs 2012".
By taking stock of global consumption, "Vital Signs" offers the facts that need to guide our stewardship of the Earth's resources - and some of these facts are shocking.
The report covers topics from obesity to ecosystem services, from grain production to nuclear power.
Taken as a whole, it paints a picture of skyrocketing population, disappearing forests, and increasing consumption peppered with bright spots like growing investment in high-speed trains and other efficient transportation systems. "Vital Signs 2012" is based on Worldwatch's online project of the same name, which provides up-to-date figures on important global concerns, as well as the Institute's own additional research.
The book compiles the most important of these into an accessible, informative resource for policymakers and anyone who wants a realistic look at the state of our planet.